Job 8:20-21 “Surely God does not reject a blameless man
or strengthen the hands of evildoers.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.”
The big problem with Job’s friends was that they spoke truisms rather than experienced truth, platitudes rather than comfort. Not having experienced what he was going through, they spoke down to him, effectively pushing him further down rather than lifting him up. That remains a problem for us today. It is all too easy to pontificate on the basis of theory, when what we all need is God’s truth worked out through human experience. We tend to do on many levels what we see going on in politics around the world at this point. Lots of governments are acting on the basis of theories that seem nice and sound logical in an academic setting, but their results are disastrous in practice. Much of Europe is in an energy famine because of the political situation with Russia, brought on by their simplistic “green” theories about climate change. America has that as well, along with the contrast of essentially the opposite situation of just three years ago. All of that is on the macro level, but we have the same tendency on the interpersonal level as well, just as Job’s friends did. Life is messy, and if we’re not careful it’s easy to lose sight of God’s fundamental truths. In ministering to one another and in dealing with ourselves, for that matter, it’s important to say, “I don’t know,” whenever that is appropriate. We need to discern and hang onto God’s truths, starting with His holiness, grace, and love. Most of life is not in black and white, but that doesn’t mean at all that there is no distinction between right and wrong. It is better to be in the place of Job, suffering and all, than in the place of his friends, unmoored from God’s character.
I recognize myself in Job’s friends far more than I would like. I am very familiar with the Bible, having read it through for the first time by the time I was 10 and then many times since, in quite a few translations. I’ve got all the theories down pat! I am all too prone to make pronouncements, preaching at the drop of a hat, when people need the touch of God’s love. As Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthians 13, preaching and even martyrdom are meaningless without love. At the same time, I need to be careful that I don’t descend into humanistic love that excuses instead of forgives. Many people have been tripped up by that, and I don’t want to join their number. I need to speak God’s truth in God’s love, and I certainly can’t do it in my own strength. However, God can and will do it through me, if I will be yielded to Him.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that I could minister to the brother who lost his wife last week. Thinking about my own situation brought his into sharp focus. Help me see everyone around me through Your eyes and be Your agent to them, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!